Tourette syndrome (TS) is in a class of neuropsychiatric disorders referred to as """"""""tic disorders"""""""" which are characterized by involuntary, often repetitive behaviors that can be disruptive, inappropriate, and self-injurious. While recent work in the pathophysiology  and functional imaging  has provided new knowledge into the neural circuitry of TS, there remains a formidable knowledge gap in understanding the activity of single neurons, neuronal populations, and local field potentials that may be related to human tic generation. The goal of this project is to accelerate of the characterization of human physiology in patients with TS through the utilization of microelectrode based physiological techniques that can be coupled to time-synchronized recordings of tic phenomenology/appearance. This procedure of coupling the high-resolution neuronal recordings with behavior is not common in TS because of both the lack of availability to intracranial recordings in TS patients and also expertise to perform such work. Accessing Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) patients through this grant will offer a unique opportunity to quantify the neural representation of tics. Our interdisciplinary team has demonstrated feasibility and has particular expertise in neural coding, novel neural/behavioral experimental design, neurology of TS, and DBS surgery for TS (currently the only center in the US with a FDA IDE to perform TS DBS).
This grant will increase the tempo of research into the physiology underpinning Tourette syndrome. To date, there are very few publications that have studied the fundamental firing properties of neurons associated with the generation of human tics. Understanding the abnormal brain signals that may lead to tics will aid in the facilitation of novel implantable brain devices to address medication resistant Tourette Syndrome.
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